AIDS SHAMAN

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http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

Presenting my first book to the world… available now as ebook, print version coming…  my awakening to the spiritual realms began while sick with AIDS in the 1990s… Here is a collection of my poetry and prose to make you think about the role gay/queer people play in the human story, plus inspiration from queer ancestors, prophets and teachers.

Preview glimpse into the contents…..

HIV was the catalyst that led to my interest in spirituality: the threat of death led me to search for meaning in life. Given a positive diagnosis in 1990, by ’95 I was becoming symptomatic and was considered a PWA (Person With AIDS). I left my job, got my debts written off by telling the bank I was leaving the world, and turned my mind to the big question – why, I asked for the first time in my life, did I exist in the first place? I had held a firmly rational, materialist, atheistic view since the age of 12, but now, at 30, an understandably urgent need for spiritual answers arose in me. I plunged into a study of the worlds’ religions, into pagan magic and new age teachings, soon sensing a mystical core common to all. I began to open my mind and heart to the possibility of something more, to the possibility of a purpose behind our apparently random existence here on planet earth, to the idea of a beneficent divine presence giving rise to that existence.

 

All life’s crises hold an opportunity

nothing is ever only dark or light

HIV can awaken our spiritual sight.

Gays don’t like religion, thank goddess for that

we prefer to think for ourselves

and that’s where it’s at

we come out because we touch the truth inside

and that’s where we find our love and our pride

if we learn to listen to the soul, as we did as a child

all the answers we seek are there….

 

Calling to the Witch in every Queer

To the Priestess in every Lesbian

To the Shaman in every Gay barman

The Divine Mother in every Bear

The Abbot in every Faggot

The Deity in every Dyke

The Radical in every Faerie

It’s time for the QUEER PEOPLES OF PLANET EARTH TO COME HOME

 

,,,and the time must come
after all the parties
all the drugs
after the dying years
and a decade of decadence
the time comes, can only come
when the gay phoenix rises
after centuries of death
across the planet
the rainbow serpent
unicorn lion and bear
the return of the shamans
awakening everywhere…..

 

We’ve been hidden for so long in every race on earth

waiting for the globe to shrink so we can find each other

pathological said the shrinks

sinners said the church

we have to fight for equality

and in ourselves we have to search

for the answers to why we we’re here

for the secrets of being Queer.

This is the calling of the twenty first century queer: to learn to unite the sexual and the spiritual, and find the balancing, healing, role we play in the human family…. to remember, recover and renew our QUEER SPIRIT

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shokti

 

the rainbow age

I AM LAUNCHING A NEW BLOG SITE AND INVITE FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS

https://rainbowmessengerblog.wordpress.com/

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THIS IS ONE OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECES, BLOGGED 15/11/2015:

Once upon a time the human mind was as simple as that of a child. It was not full of language, concepts and information. It was not constantly troubled and faced with ever mounting responsibilities.. When we sat down in stillness we easily slipped into the dark emptiness of dreamtime, where we could hear the voices and see visions of elemental spirits, faerie folk, ancestors and deities. We slipped into a place between the worlds and never doubted that the cycle of life and death was an eternal one and that as creatures of the universe we were loved and taken care of.

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Gradually over the centuries the development of language, laws and culture filled the human mind with thought, fear and worry, cutting us off from the eternal part of ourselves.  We went to church and temple to reconnect to that part of ourselves,  to the spirit, the eternal. We named this part of existence sacred, and  access to it became conditional on obeying certain rules and conditions.

When the Europeans arrived in the Americas they found a native culture that deeply honoured the immanence of spirit in creation. The minds of the Indians were not polluted by indoctrinated beliefs and fear of hell, they knew themselves to be enjoying the splendour of Great Spirit in their happy hunting grounds. Their simplicity kept them in touch with nature and the spirit world. Certain members of the tribe were born into the role of medicine men who communicated with the spirit levels. These special ones were cared for by the rest of the tribe. They were very offensive to the Europeans because they embodied both male and female nature and because they took lovers of the same sex. These shaman souls became known as the Berdache, a French word for a passive homosexual lover, this term was only replaced recently, in the 1990s, by Two Spirit.

Will Roscoe on Two Spirits:  http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.gen.004

The Europeans did their worst: they set about destroying the spiritual connection of the tribes by attacking the Two Spirited via the homophobic teachings of the Christian religion, and poisoning the minds of the native peoples with alcohol. But the ancient power of the tribal peoples of the world can not be destroyed. It is rising again as native wisdom is revived and explored and as the shamanic souls of the modern world wake up to who they are.

It’s not only the minds and souls of the Native peoples that were poisoned and polluted. The same treatment is handed out to the whole world to this very day. We are all permitted alcohol but denied other substances (generally it would seem this is because those other substances might wake us up to the mass delusion, to the mind control going on) . If there has been an effort to confuse everybody about ‘the meaning of life’, about god and spirit, about the evolution of consciousness, in recent decades/centuries, it has been very successful. Most people are content to zone out to mass entertainment and be held in a state of fear by mass media rather than tackle the big questions of life, rather than turn inside and journey in their own souls. Society is crippled and heading to disaster because of our loss of connection to Soul and Source.

The souls that incarnate to be carers, healers and mystical bridges to the other worlds are not recognised in modern westernised culture. Those that have this calling have to wake up and discover it within ourselves. The symptoms of awakening can be mistaken as mental disease and medicated away. Some of the awakeners are caught up in drug subcultures, medicating themselves into altered states with little or no grasp of the powerful spiritual energy they are handling, that they were born to handle. Whether those caught up in drug crazes will be able to step out of them and into a life channelling the spirit directly without resorting to soul destroying enhancement is questionable. What is urgently needed in order to prevent more and more slipping into the vortex is a growth in spiritual/shamanic awareness in the whole of society, and crucially amongst such groups as those on the gay sex party scene, where massive harm is occurring…. and also of course where the greatest highs are occurring (so many are therefore being attracted to this chemical flame) as these shamanic souls open up their energy fields to experience bliss, unaware this is the sacred, eternal, ecstatic soul they are switching on, the one we lost touch with when we lost the ability to sit in stillness and feel the presence of spirit.

Suddenly the minds of the world are focussed. Tragedy in France reveals and drives home how many tragedies are going on in other parts of the world all the time. We all deserve to live in peace and to pursue love and self-discovery. Surely most of us know this? But humans are still blowing each other up in the name of their Gods. Their ignorance has brought human history to a massive crisis point. Is war and devastation the only way forward? Have we not learnt anything from the last century? Will we have mass hysteria or could massive awakening and reconciliation actually be possible?

There is a rainbow awakening happening on this planet. The voices calling for peace and understanding of our innate Oneness are getting louder. They exist in all religions, and outside institutionalised faith. They exist in all races, all nations, in all walks of life. They are the voices of the ONE RAINBOW NATION OF HUMANITY. They are remembering the ancient ways of connection, of respect and honouring all life, of love. Our prayers are powerful.  We achieve peace on earth by deeply embodying it in our own energy fields, we get to this by releasing all our darkness, fear and pain, by becoming once again the innocent, divine children of  Creation, living in trust, in harmony, in the flow with Nature Herself.  To release all that we need to deeply pray… we may also need to scream and shout and cry….. This is the Time

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Gay Sex, Excess, Spirit and Wisdom

August 1st, 2015 was a big gay day… Pride marches took place in two of the famous homes of European queer life – Brighton and Amsterdam, plus in Belfast, where we are still struggling for social acceptance and legal rights on a par with the neighbours in rest of UK and Ireland.

A bomb scare in Brighton caused a long delay to the parade, keeping thousands shivering in the wind on the seafront. This delay seems to mirror what I see as the STUCK POINT gay life has reached. Yes we have rights, we have scenes, we have lots of sex, we have great parties, we look good…. but where the fuck are we going? New HIV infections continue to rise in number, serious mental health issues and suicides among gay men are far too common and drug use seems to be spiralling out of control…. Our cruising sites and apps are full of guys of all ages looking for anonymous, drug fuelled sex. Compared to the thrill and instant highs these can provide, romance and dating can seem a bit dull, and rather challenging. We may have equal marriage now but is anyone actually looking for love any more?

I am back from a visit to Krakow, Poland, a country where the age of consent for homo and heterosexuals was set at 15 way back in 1932, but in which negative public attitudes towards us, reinforced by the powerful Catholic Church, kept gay life suppressed and subject to police harassment until the fall of Communism. Societal attitudes towards same sex relationships have not yet changed much, and what I found in Krakow reflected this – gay life exists mainly as late night culture of sex clubs, one sauna and one disco. Grindr etc are changing the way guys find each other so outdoor cruising is pretty much history. Grindr offers potential for meeting and forming friendships of course, but as we know well, it also encourages us to view each other as sex objects in a market, for sizing up and getting what we want from. Whether we do this with a bit of humanity, with heart energy as well as lust, is of course in our own hands.

The vast majority of those appearing on Grindr in Krakow are under 30 years of age, suggesting this is the tool the new generation .. .the first to grow up post communism… are using to create their gay subculture. Within minutes of switching it on my first hit came from a lad asking for a picture of my dick. There was a fair bit of this, and of lads who were seeking a drug high, not a human connection. A visit to one of the sex bars, Blue XL, threw me into a fairly dank cauldron of shadows, where shame, fear and dodgy attitude were easily as common as any sense of fun and pleasure. Maybe it was just a bad night – and I shouldn’t complain, I was introduced to the place by a gorgeous local lad who was genuinely desirous of my company and my attention with no other agenda than pleasure (in several parts of the world I have experienced that underlying the interest young guys show in older there is of course a lust for cash as well as cock). This bar was where the older guys were, but they didn’t seem to be at all social, simply pursuing lusts and needs… and I was left with an uncomfortable feeling that our global sex culture is so obsessed with the ‘divine’ male body (which is everywhere in the imagery around, the porn etc) that we have to shuffle in the dark to have sex so we don’t see the bitter realities of the human form. Sex in the dark is fun, no denying it, but sex with drunk, repressed homosexuals who won’t even look you in the eye, isn’t great, ever.

Eg Hard On in London where I got to fuck hot fit men – but only their bodies, I could not sense that they were actually present with me, they were on their own internal trips. We are good at facilitating each other’s individual journeys sometimes but less good at making the effort to create a shared journey, it seems. Not that I want to knock Hard On: Suzie Kruger continues to provide a gay sex space that is celebratory, welcoming and fun… needed on the London scene as much as it ever was as gay men get sucked into a life lived cybernetically, where sex becomes about pics and stats rather than about flirting and surprising, where chems are increasingly replacing the chemistry of two beings merging their energies as the doorway to connection.

I don’t wish to knock any of it. There are times when dark room sex is just the thing, when lust needs to lead the way. But while in Poland I found strong lurking energies of shame, fear etc that may appear to have been largely vanquished from our western european sex culture, I am wondering what is really fuelling the massive rise in chemically enhanced sex in the last decade. Post AIDS holocaust the gay community seems to be falling apart – we went from a time when crisis made us pull together in compassion and grief to a post apocalyptic hedonism, where escape into sexualised oblivion seems to have become the height of gay life. Great sex, fit bodies, great parties – I believe many guys have achieved all these and do not know where to go next. In a culture that denies the transcendent spiritual part of our human nature, what else is there for us to aim for beyond extreme physical pleasure? But let’s remember that William Blake pointed out that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. It’s time we thought about getting there without the collapse/crisis stage where we learn the hard way that a life lived solely for pleasure leads to trouble…

I am sensing that the shame and fear that I found stalking in a Polish sex club is not absent from our more ‘advanced’ culture here in the UK.. it’s gone underground… retreated into our subconscious. We are all out and proud and visible now, so to admit our feelings of shame about our sexuality becomes a little embarrassing…. so we keep smiling, keep fit, march at Pride … and get to the dealer at the first opportunity. There is a repression in gay men that has not yet been fully addressed. Drugs are a shortcut to uninhibited intimacy and a brush with ecstasy – but intimacy and ecstasy are soul states which we will only fully access when we live fully from our souls. This repression is perfectly understandable, the inheritance of centuries of denial of our nature, but it leads us into desperate behaviours in our search for validation, it cripples our lives and our growth as human beings. So intoxicated sexual experience becomes the escape route, over and over, until some of us can find no way to escape the escape.

This repression will not lift until we remove it for ourselves… and while projects such as The Quest for Gay Men, such as Loving Men, do much to help heal the wounds of growing up gay in a straight patriarchal world, this process needs us to dive into the area where our validity as human beings has been the most denied – the spiritual side of life. Although attitudes are shifting in some religious circles, the most aggressive hatred and denial of us still comes from religious sources, so it is no surprise that the soul is something we talk little about in our gay culture. We fuck like animals because many of us have chosen to believe the biological view that that is all we are. Sexual excess produced the AIDS epidemic, and is currently fuelling the drug crisis spreading not only in cities like London but across the land, as more and more guys become hooked on chemicals as the way of interacting with each other. A lot of us are so lacking in confidence, probably from growing up in fear, that drugs make things easier.. in the short term. Sex becomes functional, commodified and fails miserably to lift us to the heights we dream of…. because there is a missing factor: open, joyful heart is required for real bliss to flow through our system.

Five decades post decriminalisation of sex between men in the UK why is our culture still so riddled with fear, shame etc… why are we becoming increasingly dependent on drugs to get along with each other? Is there something keeping the repression in place? Whom does it serve to keep older men in a state of shame, whom does it serve if the younger gay generations end up drug fucked and damaged beyond repair? Are there powerful forces at work keeping us in these dark places and preventing us from realising the love, the creativity, the natural joy, that is the nature of our souls? Or are those forces just within us?

That bar in Krakow could have been anywhere in the world. Hi-nrg music from the ‘golden age’ when gay life and public play was all so new and exciting, macho man porn imagery, dark labyrinths and too much booze. Since we rarely exchange words, it really could be anywhere. But is this kind of sex venue serving us any more? Would more people perhaps go, and younger people, if there was a ‘light’ option as well as a dark?

Sex clubs… saunas.. cruising apps and sites… promiscuity is accessible to the masses like never before. Our homes become pleasure palaces, drug dens, and too often also our cages, where we hide from the world on painful comedowns. The spirit of celebration and play is huge in gay life, but without some spiritual grounding and awareness we can become stuck in a world where sex is the ultimate goal, but there are limits to what the body can take and there are other demands our souls wish us to be aware of.

Gay spirituality is not about us finding our place within religions. It is about us finding ourselves. Coming out is one step on that path. Drugs and wild sex are part of it too. Our culture needs a vision of the goal beyond unlimited pleasure, beyond pride in our sexual conquests, beyond the right to have our relationships recognised… we need to reach the palace of wisdom and start looking around it, because the casualties of our sexual excess continue to mount up. Its not only HIV and HEP C we are facing now. A much less visible mental health crisis is already gripping gay culture. We are creating a scene where men become monsters, where young guys fall into deadly dependencies just in order to keep up with the in-crowd, where beauty rules over brains and love is a four letter word few will mention.

The spiritual journey for gay people is not about what religion we buy into. It is about us finding our own relationship with planet earth, with the cosmos and with consciousness. It is about recognising we are more than physical beings.. .then finding our own queer ways to explore and express that. Many of us put so much energy into the excesses that open our energy fields and bring us the pleasures of enhanced connections, but we will grow much more as a people, as a sub-tribe of the human family, when our culture supports that exploration of our nature as energy beings, as souls, through wide and varied means, not just drug use, when our culture recognises that coming out is not the end of the journey – it’s not a case of come out and now we can have shame free sex… that’s not the end of it…. we are on a journey that all humanity is on, a journey to the Self, to the core of who we are and what life is…. as souls born to reject and transcend the old, crippling rules around gender, sexuality and worship, we are scouts finding the way for the whole of the species. Our scouting works produces a lot of casualties, but the power is within us to reduce the number of those and create a culture that recognises the spiritual drive underlying all our searching for pleasure, for transcendent experience. Then we will come home to a liberated gay 21st century and be a sign to those still struggling for the most basic acceptance of who they are in other parts of the world, that the effort is worth it.

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Queer Spiritual Pioneers of Europe

The Huffington Post recently featured a piece on LGBT religious leaders, stating “Reflecting and shaping the culture in which it is embedded, religion has historically been hostile to LGBT-identified people and communities. However, over the last three decades more denominations, congregations and individuals have come out in support of honoring the full humanity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people.”   The initial list of 15 has now been expanded by readers to an amazing 90 people.  Looking through the slide show there are plenty of dog collars, and unusual sounding churches (it’s easy to set up a new church in the US), and one could be left with the impression that the future for queer spirituality is to be found within the religious zone.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/20/lgbt-religious-leaders-most-inspiring_n_1022043.html

Spirituality is the huge area that gay liberation has still to come home to.  Over five decades we have created phenomenal social spaces, made huge political and legal advances, plus survived a deadly plague…but currently much of gay life seems caught up in drug fuelled craziness, with little interest in seeking any wisdom to balance the hedonism. The need for some spiritual grounding and awareness is becoming painfully clear, the crisis of drug dependency and mental health issues especially visible in our sexual cruising circles.   However, spirituality is not about finding a religion to follow, it is about the search to understand who we are and to be that in joy and wholeness.  Coming Out is one step on the path of self discovery:  we have to listen and respond to the inner self in order to come out, and we would benefit hugely from recognising as a community that the story doesn’t end there.  Self-discovery is an ongoing process, and listening to to the soul inside makes for a healthy life, one that embraces growth on every level as a constant feature.  The images of queer religious leaders, and the books/articles that occsaionally appear in the media about gays in religions give a misleading impression.  While many queers do find a place in some religious settings, many more of us are pursuing our own personal growth and realisation in ways of our own choosing, which might for example come through a pscyhological approach (such as Loving Men and The Quest below), or via tantric, pagan or other healing practice.  The search for the deep realities of who we are on a soul level is an individual one, and we queers are naturally resistant to teachers and leaders who seem to set themselves up as superior in any way.  I observe a deep seated desire for equality amongst us, and gradually spiritual spaces are emerging where we are all the teachers and the students at the same time, journeying together into deep states of communion and revelation.  Gay spirituality in my experience works best when we all recognise the divinity within each other, then share our own particular skills and interests, acknowledging that no single one of us ever has all the answers.

Below is my alternative to the Huffington Post list.  I have restricted the entries to people i am aware of operating in the field of queer spirituality in Europe, but most references are to the UK – because I live there and so am most tuned in to what is happening in this country.  I welcome any additions to the list that anyone can add to make it more comprehensive and recognisant of the true European picture (just add more names and links in the comments section please).  I have mostly avoided activists who are working within religions, but one or two whose work I consider especially valuable have snuck in.  My aim is to show just how much energy is building in this spiritual sphere of growth and discovery, and how unnecessary it is to be part of a religion to experience it.  I could have added many more solo practitioners who are furthering the cause of queer spiritual awakening by offering their healing services, but that would be another kind of list – I am attempting here to name and honour the people I have observed making important, heartfelt, contributions to the healing and growth of our lgbt+ communities.

First let’s mention…

(1) EDWARD CARPENTER the UK’s grand daddy of all things queer and spiritual. He lived 1844-1929 and wrote about the the role of the ‘Uranians’ in bringing about revolutionary shifts in human relationship with the body, with sex and with God. The Edward Carpenter Community, set up to create non-commercial spaces where men could meet and get to know each other, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015. Several retreats are held each year, some with spiritual themes. http://www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk/

and then come right up to date:

(2) GEERT OETKEN, known as Eilendes Wasser, who along with (3) JOHN FERGUSON (Habibi Ding) and (4) EDUARD REINIER VANKOOWIJK (Junis) pioneered the arrival of radical faerie gatherings to Europe, the first happening on the island of Terschelling, Netherlands, in July 1995. After ten years of summer and winter gatherings the enthusiasm, and the funds, were enough to purchase sanctuary land. Geert and other landfinders, including Vincent Nauwynck (Lanai) and Joost Brand (Dee Tale) dedicated their holiday times to the landsearch until Folleterre was found and the first European sanctuary of queer spirit opened with an inauguration gathering at Autumn Equinox 2005.   http://www.folleterre.org/

(5) MIQHAEL KANNEMEYER, co-founder of holistic healing project the Helios Foundation, Miqhey Mixture has been serving the cause of gay political, social and spiritual liberation since the Gay Liberation Front days of the 1970s. He is an active community builder, connecting the various branches of the queer spiritual tree into a practical vision of the purpose and potential of this developing side of queer life. He is particularly active with the Albion Faerie gatherings in the UK and recently co-facilitated the Tribal Vision Gathering of the EuroFaeries at Folleterre, celebrating 10 years of European sanctuary. Miqhael is a co-creator of 2016’s Queer Spirit Festival.  http://www.albionfaeries.org.uk/

(6) JASON TANTRA, with a background in spiritual healing, clairvoyance and mediumship, Jason began his journey with Tantra in 2006 and now runs workshops, retreats and a festival through Tantra4GayMen. He works to reveal the magic possible when sexuality is combined with spiritual awareness and practice. The third annual Men’s Tantrafest takes place in Wales in September 2015, where 50 men will take a journey together into the power of the heart and the spiritual potential in sexual energy.   www.tantra4gaymen.com

(7) BUZZY DANDELION, creator of Quintasensual Festival, a Tantric celebration of sexuality and gender in all their diverse and divine forms, taking place for the second time in Somerset, UK, August 2015…. perhaps the most groundbreaking exploration of Tantric energies on the planet, moving understanding of the spiritual path way beyond old stuck notions of gender norms and expectations. Buzzy’s first love in life was science, and see his work in the spiritual field as driven by the urge to get in touch with the basic divine principles and essence behind all phenomena. He is a co-creator of 2016’s Queer Spirit Festival.   http://quintasensual.org/

(8) LOU HART, co-creatrix of Queer Pagan Camp (along with (9) SIREN HARRADINE and (10) WOODY FOX), teacher of the Craft and from 2005-12 Chair of Camden Forum ……. . The first gathering of Queer Pagans in the UK in 1998 brought together nearly 100 lesbian, gay, bi and transgender lovers of nature, forming a cauldron of possibilities that has grown and evolved into several camps per year. At QPC community and spirituality are explored through ritual, workshops, music and performance with the calling to manifest our skills as queer healers and connectors of the planes of consciousness at the forefront.  http://queerpagancamp.org/  

(11) AL HEAD, creatrix of Emerge Camp and 2016’s upcoming Queer Spirit Festival, Al – known also as Earth Song – has been working as a healer with energies of nature and spirit for over 30 years. She offers workshops and retreats around exploring, unblocking and boosting the energy flows we experience in these human bodies – the first This Land Sex Magic residential weekend is coming up early November 2015.   http://movingenergy.me.uk/

(12) ANDREW HARVEY, internationally celebrated author and teacher of mystical awareness and sacred activism, Andrew’s work was largely ignored by the lgbt community until he was invited to speak at the second LoveSpirit Festival in 2013, where he delivered his insights on gay spirituality with passion. The speech can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gadzf3Ktw8     http://www.andrewharvey.net/

(13) MARK MULLIGAN, brought Naked Yoga for men to London in 2007. Yoganu classes are held every week in Covent Garden, plus there are workshops and retreats. The current facilitators include (14) RICHARD WILLIAM GEORGE, who is recognised as Senior Yoga Teacher by the Yoga Alliance.    http://www.yoganu.co.uk/

(15) ANDY SAICH, facilitator of intimate and tantric explorations for men since 1990, Andy is one of the co-creators of LoveSpirit Festival and runs workshops in London, Berlin and elsewhere through Men in Touch (menintouch.co.uk) and GayLoveSpirit.  http://menintouch.co.uk/     http://www.gaylovespirit.com/

(16) GEOFFREY HENNING, a co-founder of Crusaid, one of the leading HIV/AIDS charities in the UK from the 1980s until its absorption into the Terrence Higgins Trust in 2011, Geoffrey has trained in mediumship and in 2012 launched the LoveSpirit Festival, an event aiming to bring together activists and facilitators in the field of queer spirituality and inject some spiritual awareness into the LGBT+ universe.  http://www.lovespirit.org/

(17) LEVIATHEN HENDRICKS co-organiser of LoveSpirit Festival and facilitator of the London Queer Spirit MeetUp group, Leviathen has been developing ways to expand the conversation around spirituality in the queer community since 2010.  http://www.meetup.com/London-Gay-Spiritual-Meetup/

(18) JOHN BELLAMY, creator of the Gay Spiritual Group in London in the late 1990s and host at Hamilton Hall in Bournemouth, which offers retreats and workshops for gay men as well as a space to retreat or holiday in gentle spiritual surroundings.  http://www.hamiltonhall.info/

(19) THOMAS LOHMANN, creator of GayLoveSpirit, an international network through which various facilitators offer intimacy workshops, tantric healing and counsellling. (20) KAI ERHARDT, (21) DAAN VAN KAMPENHOUT and (22) VOLKER MORITZ are among the men offering workshops on erotic, sensual and shamanic themes.  http://www.gaylovespirit.com/index_en.php

(23) JAMES PHILIP, spiritual channel, healer and teacher at Celestial Earth and the College of Psychic Studies, organises retreats and workshops to heal, restore and expand consciousness.  http://www.celestialearth.org/

(24) PETER KOGELBAUER, erotic healer and men’s retreat leader based in Barcelona.  http://peter-kogelbauer.com/

(25) ARMIN HEINING, founder in Germany of the Institute for Meditation and Tantra, offering Gay Tantra workshops and trainings since 1992.  http://www.gay-tantra.eu/index.php

(26) BODHI, creator of DANCE OUT LOUD, LGBT 5 Rhythms group meeting weekly in London.  http://5rhythms.webs.com/   http://www.meetup.com/The-Dance-Out-Loud-Group/

(27) HANS SCHUMANN, creator of Spiritual Gay Men in London group that meets regularly in Clapham, providing a space for men to learn about and discuss a wide range of spiritual topics.  http://www.meetup.com/Spiritual-Gay-Men-in-London/

(28) DEAN ADDAMS, Shamanic Practitioner, creator of the London Gay Men’s Shamanic Circle that meets monthly in Earls Court, providing a space for men to experience shamanic journeying, encounter spirit guides and share their about their journeys of self discovery. http://www.meetup.com/London-Gay-Mens-Shamanic-Circle/events/224032673/

(29) CAROLYN COWAN, Kundalini Yoga teacher, pscyhosexual and relationship therapist and facilitator of ‘Mastering the Addictive Personality’ workshops.   http://carolyncowan.com/

(30) DANNY ARNULDSSEN, co-facilitator with HUNTER FLOURNOY, DAVID JELNIEK and CHRISTOPHE VAN THYNE, of an annual International Gay Retreat in Belgium, a space for men to explore relaxation, brotherhood, adventure, in depth intimate connections and playfulness.    http://www.gayspiritfriends.nl/international-gay-retreat.html

(31) AMANDA GAYLOVE, sexuality educator and creatrix of Queer Conscious Sex spaces, where beings of all genders can explore sexual energy, pleasure and connection, Amanda cites Barbara Carellas (UrbanTantra) and Dossie Easton (Ethical Slut) amongst her teachers.    http://queerhearted.com/  http://radicalqueerloverite.tumblr.com/

(32) LONDON FAERIE, creator and facilitator of Sacred Pleasures, multi-gendered spaces exploring intimacy, fetish and community. Events happen in London, plus workshops in Paris, Prague, Berlin and elsewhere.   http://londonfaerie.co.uk/      http://sacredpleasures.co.uk/

(33) SEANI LOVE and (34) REBECCA LOWRIE, ‘The Sexual Alchemist’, co-creators of the School of Erotic Mysteries, offering workshops and healing work to people of all genders and sexualities.    http://www.schooloferoticmysteries.com/     http://rebeccalowrie.com/

(35) SHARON FERGUSON, minister with the Metropolitan Community Church in north London, Sharon in liaison with the LoveSpirit team negotiated for a spiritual themed marquee in Trafalgar Square at Gay Pride 2013 (the space generously given by Pride London with no charge) where short sample sessions on wide range of topics including channelling reiki energies, meditations, chanting, kundalini yoga, were offered. The space was a melting pot of conversation and debate, with queers from huge range of spiritual and secular backgrounds joining in. Unfortunately Pride London has not felt able to offer this kind of space for free again, since they need to balance their books and can make a lot of money out of renting space in the square.   http://mccnorthlondon.org.uk/aboutus/who-we-are/

(36) REVEREND JIDE MACCAULAY, founder of the House of Rainbow, works to provide Christian fellowship and worship for marginalised communities within the Church and support the activism of lgbt in Africa.  One of only two specifically Christian activists on the list, I have included Jide because of the groundbreaking work he is doing for people of colour and faith. http://www.houseofrainbow.org/index.html

(37) VYVYAN CHATTERJIE, Interfaith Minister, facilitator for several years of spiritual themed retreats with the Edward Carpenter Community and builder of queer spiritual community, Vyvyan (Notre Dame des Arbres) has given much to build the Eurofaerie network, centred on Folleterre Sanctuary in northern France.   http://www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk/       http://eurofaeries.eu/

(38) GUNNY CATELL, known also as Mata Hairy, has pioneered radical faerie space in Austria, giving birth to the Austrian Faerie Gathering in 2013 (the second one is this August 2015), and writing the first book about the faeries in Europe: Rise Like A Faerie, available soon.   http://radicalfaeries.at/

(39) SEB COX, creator of Big Lingam Tantra and the Brotherhood of Pleasure, based in London.   http://www.meetup.com/BIG-LINGAM-TANTRA-LONDON/    http://www.cumm.co.uk

(40) TIM FOSKETT, co-creator of Loving Men, along with (41) ALFRED HURST and (42) DENNIS CARNEY, offering ‘adventures in intimacy’ retreats, personal growth and community space for gay men.    http://www.lovingmen.org/

(43) ADE ADENJI and (44) DARREN BRADY, co-creators of the Quest for Gay Men, dedicated to healing the emotional wounds that gay men carry from growing up in a straight world, and developing self-awareness, compassion and community.    http://www.thequestawaitsyou.com/

(45) SURAT SHAAN KNAN is a transgender activist, working for the Liberal Jewish movement UK, is a campaigner for faith-related LGBTQI issues, and founder of RAINBOW JEWS.    http://www.rainbowjews.com/

(46) NICK KIENTSCH trained for 6 years in a Thai buddhist forest tradition and now teaches mindfulness and meditation for gay men in London   www.evolvingminds.org.uk

(47) NIKKI SLADE leads Kirtan groups and offers individual voicework tuition and healing.    http://www.freetheinnervoice.com/

(48) GAVIN FRANK offers Kirtan sessions in London and voice workshops    http://www.listentothevoice.co.uk/

(49) EILEEN BELLOT, ceremonialist, healer and founder of QUESTLIFE in London, exploring growth and transformation, and including retreats and circles for women.    http://www.meetup.com/Questlife-Inspiring-your-full-potential/

(50) CLOE JACKSON, creatrix of The Dancing Universe, offering retreats and Dance Your Naked Truth workshops in the UK   http://www.thedancinguniverse.com/

(51) JUSTIN LURIA, creator of the School of Earth Medicine, exploring energy healing, shamanic healing, vibrational remedies etc through workshops and individual sessions. Workshops include ‘Healing the Rainbow Wound’ for the LGBT+ community.   http://www.schoolofearthmedicine.com/

(52) DAVID PARKER, ‘The Swarmite’, breathwork therapist active in healing in London since the 1980s, his interest lies in tales of love, CODEPENDENCY, Debauchery & Urban RECOVERY in the Big Smoke.   http://www.theswarmite.com/

(53) INGO CANDO, founder of the WOTEVER WORLD collection of characters, events and community activism, Ingo creates spaces where gender norms dissolve and inspired queer self-expression takes off.  Wotever events build on the spirit of acceptance, equality, respect, imagination and humour.  “Respect and welcome to one and all. No matter what identity, or multiple identities any person may have or choose, Wotever welcomes them. This includes, but certainly is not exclusive to: drag kings, queers, women, mtf, femmes, trans, butches, queerbois, gay, drag queens, dykes, bisexuals, ftm, men, straight…..Wotever etc. All will respect all.”  Through this openness the Wotever crew are creating the kind of liberating social scene that is in accord with the vision of the original pioneers of gay liberation, making it possible for our queer spirit to grow into its light, power, joy and bring its gifts to the world.   http://woteverworld.com/

and I will include myself to finish off this list for now:

(54) SHOKTI LOVESTAR: radical faerie, shamanic healer, blogger and spiritual activist. Shokti facilitates queer spiritual spaces at Folleterre Eurofaerie sanctuary and Albion Faerie events, including London drum circles, and is a co-creator of the first QUEER SPIRIT FESTIVAL coming to the UK at a site in Wiltshire in August 2016. I seek to bring light and awakening to the lgbt+ community, seeing this as a crucial moment in our collective growth as we approach the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of sex between men. I consider direct spiritual experience and expanded understanding as the method by which we can open ourselves to the great mystery and take the journey of gay liberation to the spiritual level (which means finding out who we are and being it, and does not mean living a ‘pure’ life trying to aspire to standards and demands set by religions or anyone else). https://shokti.wordpress.com/    http://queerspirituk.tumblr.com/

THANKYOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION!

OFFERED IN THE SPIRIT OF LOVE AND AWARENESS, AWAKENING AND INFINITE PEACE

BEING QUEER IS A QUEST FOR CONSCIOUSNESS

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The Queer Quest for Love

To be queer is to be on a quest to find the Self.

Coming out is the first step of Self Realisation.

Mainstream western culture has a very mechanical, functional, biological, competitive view of the self, but is this turning us into successful shiny beings with no soul – with guarded hearts, confused minds, drug dependencies so strong that the simplest, oldest and most exciting of loving human interactions – sex – becomes impossible without chemicals to alter our state of consciousness.

Eastern philosophies.. and indeed western magical practices and religious mystics… see the Self as something much more. It is the religious, political and scientific hierarchies that have sold us all down the river, convincing us that we are nothing more than helpless sinners/wage earners and cannon fodder/ biological accidents. People go about their lives more or less believing in one of these versions of reality, arguing with each other about who is getting it right.

When the HIndus accepted the influx of modernisation from the west C19 they offered us in return a spiritual wisdom, an understanding of the human and divine cosmos developed over millennia. It is taking a long time for the West to catch on to the concept of the divine Self permeating all creation, despite the surge of interest in all things mystical and transcendent from the 1960s hippies onwards. We in the west are so attached to our egos that a spiritual culture that says relinquish ego and identify with something bigger has not found its way to really infiltrate our thinking. Yet this culture, this understanding of the self, is exactly the knowledge that could make sense of the many mysteries and dilemmas of gay life today.

Hinduism teaches that the true nature of the divine reality we are in is Bliss, Jesus called it Love. We access spiritual consciousness through love. The sexual revolution has brought the freedom to pursue bliss sexually, but its when we bring love to the sexual act it takes us into heaven. Tantra, unlike western religion, explores sexuality as a pathway to spiritual freedom. Drugs are a short cut to connection, a substitute for love, they are also a good way of opening connections between people but when we have sex with someone we share our whole energy field with them, we expose each other to much more than our viruses. Sex joins us together body and soul, although we might like to pretend it doesn’t. The proof of that comes when love is in the equation, that’s when we see how making love is indeed opening up our own internal access to heaven.

I believe gay men need to wake up to the fact that the bliss and union we chase so fervently is the call of the soul within us to open our minds, hearts and bodies to the incredible miracle, the adventure of consciousness we are on, the potential for heaven inside us, to the possibility that we are capable of doing much more with this awesome power of love within us than imitate hetero models of relationship!

Two great lies of the 20th century: that we are separate material beings and that science will provide all the answers.

After 5 decades of sexual revolution, widening spiritual exploration and mass drug use aren’t we ready as a western culture now to say YES THERE IS MORE …. we do not have all the answers… we are conscious beings exploring existence in a multidimensional creation. Drugs give us a taste of it, sex takes us there too, and LOVE IS A HEADLONG DIVE INTO THE INTENSITY OF OUR TRUE NATURE.

We know religion gives very biassed and unsatisfying answers to our existential questions, but why do gay people turn so much to scientific or humanistic ideas to explain life away and not listen to our own pioneers, scouts and prophets? Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Harry Hay, Arthur Evans, Andrew Ramer, Andrew Harvey, Ram Dass, Judy Grahn, Starhawk to name a few. Maybe our gay publications could be informing us much more about these voices and about the many gay people getting involved in activities like naked yoga, meditation, gay tantra, shamanism, 5 rhythms, faerie gatherings etc?

It’s the 21st century and gay culture is ignoring something obvious: there is more to us than good looks, good sex and good parties. Is gay life getting sucked into a consumerist, materialist, conformist cul de sac, creating a soulless drug dependent sex party culture that could be generating a health crisis bigger and nastier than aids. Have we learnt anything? At least we are starting to listen to each other. Perhaps we are at a different evolutionary stage to the hetero masses? One of our prophets and martyrs, Oscar Wilde, said that while in the ancient world the words above the entrance to the temple were Know Thyself, in the new world it will say Be Thyself.

Coming out is the start not the end of the process, being queer is a quest, and as we approach 50 years of legal emancipation in this country gay culture has chance to develop in ways that encourage holistic self discovery and realisation. The key to all this is LOVE. We dont need a god necessarily in this, but we do need love, that is the food of the soul. We were labelled homo sexuals, perhaps its time we found a new label for ourselves, putting Love at the centre of who we are, because as I go round the world meeting queers of every nation and faith I am totally convinced that love is what drives us to come out and be proud, not sex. We are the children of love, born to discover and show the world just how powerful and divine Love really is.

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Living Our Priesthood in the World

Abridged from a chapter of Andrew Ramer’s ‘Spiritual Journeybook for Gay Men’: Two Flutes Playing

To be gay is something that begins within ourselves. In begins in our hearts, in that place that is never separate from the living heart of Infinite Oneness. To be gay is something that begins with ourselves, that finds itself mirrored back, echoed back to us by the tribe of men who love men. This tribe, our people , is a scouting tribe, a Walks-Between people, bridge-making people, walking between men and women, between night and day, between matter and spirit, between the living and the dead.

There are many tribes in the global nation of all tribes. For so long we have defined ourselves in opposition to the great and slow moving body of the nation of all tribes itself. We have defined ourselves, and been defined, by that which seemed to be in us most different. But a tribe must define itself from within, not without. And it is not our sexual nature alone, nor its difference from the woman-and-man-loving sexual nature of the body of the global tribe that makes us different.

In this time of crisis, it is the scouting people who hold out, by our very natures, the deepest vision of healing and peace that is possible for the entire global nation. A scouting tribe gathers itself from every other tribe, ethnic, racial, religious, regional, from every age and location, and finds common ground to connect.

Imagine a time when we find our rightful place in the tribe of all tribes. Imagine a time when we will have – not our own states, our own nations, but everywhere on the globe – centres, retreats, encampments in the midst of all the other peoples, places where we can go to heal, commune, remember and create, places where we can do our scouting work, for ourselves and the whole people.

Imagine this world. This world where any boy growing into manhood, who knows that his heart is a heart tuned toward men, can travel freely to one of these centres, with the blessings of the family that brought him into the world, there to learn about himself, his tribe, his heritage. In safety, in beauty, in love, he will be taken in to the tribe. In his own time, his own way, whole and strong.

One day there will be thousands of these centres all over the Earth. There we will deepen into ourselves as the Walks-Between People, so that we can share what we have learned about the places between night and day, female and male, body and spirit, with all the world. Each of these centres will be connected both through an energetic web and a technological and informational one. Thus, the men in each will be attuned to the others, in harmony with each other, communicating with each other, working and networking, loving and healing and dreaming together. For in dreams, in dreaming together, a tribe renews itself and remembers its most ancient roots. And a people that does not know its roots cannot live, anymore than a tree can live without its roots.

Never before, all over the planet, so strongly and so freely, have men who love men been able to meet in such great numbers. In this time, in our time, when spirit is more firmly rooted into matter, men who love men can come together – to hold hands, touch, sing, love, dance, speak from the heart and do the work of global healing our Divine Parents created us to do.

There are many different clans within our tribe. In our encampments there will be room for all of the clans, for all of the clans are needed. Sit together, walk together, sit under the moon, walk among the trees. Dance together, talk together. Find within your hearts the way to embrace each other, not exclude each other. All of our centres will be healing spaces, sacred spaces, and yet each will have its own character. Some will be monastic retreat centres, some will become artist’s colonies. Some will be schools for the healing arts, including the arts of sexual healing. There will be places for people to go on shamanic journeys, and there will also be schools for gay shamans.

One of our ancient roles as as midwives to the dying. Just as young men will be able to come to our encampments, so, too, will the elders of our tribe, after a life in the world, be able to come for comfort, security, to share their wisdom and be nurtured into dying, so that no man of our tribe need ever die unloved, unwanted or alone.

Many of us look for healing within ourselves only. We forget that while the true healer is within, true healing cannot happen alone. True healing happens in community, for no man’s imbalance is his alone. Balance and imbalance are all reflections of community. Sometimes we think that healing can happen in the arms of another man. But while the eyes of flame that light the soul can always come from another’s heart, true healing happens in community. We can help our lovers and be helped by them. But we cannot heal our lovers, nor can they heal us. It is only in the safety of a tribe, because of the safety of a tribe, that we are able to go inward to the deepest places, in order to be made whole, to heal ourselves.

Just as we come from every people, our power comes from what we bind together of the world. We are not a scouting people for ourselves alone. We will not off to our retreat centres to become separate from the rest of the people. We will go off to our sacred lodgers to study, heal, deepen and make ourselves ready to do our sacred work. But that work will take us back to the world, to share with the world. For our healing comes in community, our power comes from community, and our purpose comes from living in the community of the world, as healers, shamans and transformational artists.

Sometimes you look inward and cannot find the answers. But every man carries a piece of his tribesman’s answers. Through coming together, dancing, touching, praying, travelling to other realms, and speaking from the heart, each man can give what he carries to his tribal brothers, and each man can receive from his tribal brothers that which they have been carrying for him. No man is alone in this. No man carries his own information only. It is a loving act to share your healing with others. Let us heal together! Heal each other! Heal in each other’s hearts and hands! Makes places in which to heal. This is doing the work of our sacred priesthood. This is becoming who we are.

We enter a new era in our history. We enter an era when love and not pain will be our teacher, when joy and not sorrow will colour our lives. Never before on this planet have people lived this way. But after thousands and thousands of years of struggle and growth, we have come to the point in time when all of us fill be fully incarnate in our bodies, fully present as spirits manifesting in physical form. Without our wisdom and our power, humanity cannot make it to the next cycle. With our power and wisdom, shared freely with the tribe of all tribes, everything is possible.

Let us bless the tribe of all tribes that brought us into the world, bless the people through whose sacred bodies other people come. Let us bless all the scouting peoples, whose ancient and forgotten wisdom is being remembered in this time. And let us bless each other and ourselves. It is for this that our ancestors worked, that we ourselves worked in other lives – so that all of humanity, and we the tribe of men who love men, can step into this new era, the time of love on Earth.

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Beauty, Buggery and Bliss

Gay people have more freedom to explore BEAUTY, SEXUALITY and TRANSCENDENCE than the hetero majority.  Nature has put us on the fringes of society for a reason.  As we gain more acceptance and legal rights it is possible the heteros will drag us deeper into their old, tired games of conflict, competition, hierarchy, dysfunctional relationships:  If being gay becomes ‘normalised’ will we suffer the ugly fate of becoming normal?  But while assimilation gains pace, a major slice of gay life seems today to be swimming in a toxic and confused maelstrom of hedonistic excess, disease, addiction and even de-humanisation.  We need to accept that we are a segment of humanity still working out who we are, only a few decades into a story of poltiical liberation and social acceptance.  If we are not to sink into the normality of heteronormativity, i believe we need to balance the political progress, the assimilation, with a deep soulful search into what makes us who we are, what makes us unique… to find out what gifts our sexuality brings to the world.. while we still can.

BB is an acronym that every gay man understands.   BBB is a new one I am offering to gay life, and it stands for the urges that seem so central to so many of us:  the urge to have plenty of sex, the pursuit of beauty and love, and the desire to transcend the daily mindset, to get high and party.

BBB: BEAUTY BUGGERY AND BLISS  These are the forces that gay men in particular have more freedom to explore than heteros with families.

Gay life is obsessed with beauty: and why not?  It’s one of the best features of being alive! As long as we are appreciating that there are limitless forms of beauty, it is not limited to just one or two body types, and as long as we remind  each other that beauty is an inner quailty as well as an outer, and that what is going on inside the heart and mind will sooner or later manifest on the face and body! Throughout human history we have often been makers of art, creators of beauty.  Gay men are much more free than straights to express our appreciation of physical beauty throughout our lives.  Once a hetero man has a woman partner he generally has to rein in his desires, but in gay couples we are are likely to continue to enjoy the beauty of others (and more likely to enjoy sexual play with them too) all our lives.  We are often able to enjoy that our partners and lovers have other lovers.  We also put more effort into keeping ourselves attractive, fit and beautiful than straight males, the better to enjoy the life we are living.

I believe BEAUTY and LOVE are very closely related…. our search for beauty, in ourselves and others, is part of our soul’s wish to love and be loved, our wish to really LOVE LIFE and get the most out of it.  So is our, often vast, appetite for SEX.  Gay sex has always existed, but never before have we been free to explore our sexuality as we do today, able to find as many partners, able to meet without fear or shame, with a large range of sacraments easily available to deepen the experience.  We might reflect that for many millennia sex on planet earth was just sex.  Taboos around the body seem to have developed in the last few thousand years – and during that time same sex relations have suffered the most persecution, though of course many kinds of sexual expression became labelled as bad, cutting humanity off from a full relationship with the body and the spiritual pleasures it can bring us.  Gays have taken the new liberality around sex and drug taking that began in the 1960s and run with it, pursuing experience to extremes few straights get to know about. We are bliss seekers, par excellence.

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We take a lot of drugs.  I know some straights do too.  But living in the holy triangle of south London I’m aware that gays do it better.  i hear many tales of excess, eg three day plus long partying that goes on.  The stories I hear are either tragic, comic or cosmic.  I know it’s not just happening in London either, party scenes exist now across the UK.  The internet and dating apps makes it easy, and i sometimes get the impression gay cruising is now a drug game more than a sexual one.  People are chasing the high, and hoping for some compatible playmates along the way.  Sometimes disasters strikes, things get out of hand, but usually I hear that men help each other through these moments.  Drug nights are sometimes more about counselling and caring than anything else.  A parallel universe exists where men in altered states of consciousness explore various types of connection, to each other and within themselves.  Many hold it together and continue to go to work, maintain friendships and love affairs, but all are aware of the tightrope they are walking.  We know there are many casualties, though while men are living the high that’s the last thing they are thinking about.  They communicate and mix with others operating on the same plane of experience, and sometimes connection with the rest of the world gradually slips away.

When we play with mind altering substances we are accessing powerful energies of the soul within ourselves.  This is a natural drive in us – the soul inside pushes us to explore and expand… because it is through the heights of experience… and the hurts.. that we will find that soul, and grow as a person.  Modern culture tries to dispense with religion and leave matters of spirit to those on the fringes of mainstream society (such as mediums, psychics, healers).  Well WE are society’s fringe, and all these strong drives pushing gay life are SPIRITUAL URGES pushing us to find and know more of who we are.  We are driven to create connection, celebration and to discover new heights of living.  It’s my hope that gay life can find a way to accept this and become even more PROUD of the role we play in the development of human understanding and consciousness.  That we become proud of the ways we are NOT the same as heterosexuals and learn to access the healing gifts and spiritual treasures that exist within us.

The rational worldview has facilitated the political and social liberation of gay people in the west, but by denying the spiritual side of humanity it has produced a vacuum where many gay men are pursuing extremes of beauty, buggery and bliss with no grounding in a soul centred understanding of who we are.   I am not suggesting we turn back to religions to change this, i am proposing that we work it out for ourselves:  we had to think for ourselves, to listen to the soul inside, in order to come out as gay in a world that still largely denies our right to be who we are – and we have to do the same regarding the nature of that soul.  We can form our own direct relationship with the cosmic reality, the bigger picture of life, but it would make a huge difference if we were doing our exploring and expanding within a gay culture that supported this kind of inner exploration and discovery, that recognises TRANSCENDENCE as a real, spiritual experience – one to cultivate, explore and enjoy (and also recognising that drugs are only one of many routes to it).

There is more to us than chemisty, biology and physics.  We are also the things that science cannot explain: mind, emotion and bliss seeking spirit.  And we are freer to pursue our self expression and bliss than we have ever been before, at least in the west.  Will we make wise use of this liberation or will the forces of unconsciousness, of greed, excess and abuse, win the day?

Beauty Buggery and Bliss are powerful intoxicating, addictive forces:  they can lead us to concsiousness, to soulful awakening and a fulfilled life, but they can also lead us into an oblivion of compulsive behaviours, negativity and unconsciousness.  We exist on the edge of society for a reason.  We are there, stretching the boundaries of human experience, and bringing back the lesson that yes we can live beyond judgements and societal rules but a healthy, happy life requires some self awareness and spiritual grounding.  We are bringing back our experiences as souls embracing the mystery of life, beyond reason, sometimes beyond sanity, and we, even in our intoxicated games, are exploring who we really are.

The beginning of the end for HIV?

World Aids Day 2014: as i travelled in to central London to speak at a ‘Let’s Talk About Gay Men, Sex and Drugs’ event at the Charing Cross Road Manbar, there were only a few red ribbons around on the tube – and only on gay men it seemed – with no acknowledgement of the day on the front page of the Evening Standard.  They missed the scoop, which i found on the BBC website when i got back home:  “HIV evolving into milder form” – a team of scientists in Oxford are telling us their research reveals “the virus is being “watered down” as it adapts to our immune systems.”  They even speculate “the virus may eventually become “almost harmless” as it continues to evolve.”   Apparently the antiretroviral drugs are targetting the more virulent forms of the virus and encouraging the milder ones to survive.

The scientists are keen to point out HIV is still deadly and isn’t going away in a hurry – but also saying: “We are observing evolution happening in front of us and it is surprising how quickly the process is happening.”

I want to say the same about gay life based on some of the things i heard at the Manbar last night.  The community gathered on Charing Cross Road, a cross generational event and it was a relief to be at a World Aids Day event that made room for the expression of our intellect, emotion and creativity – rather than being just another fundraiser, where we are encouraged to drink beer and throw money in buckets.  It was actually more than a little bizarre to be in the former 79CXR, once known as a haunt of lustful and sleazy pick up vibes, hearing intelligent, witty and insightful words from so many men.  Pubs have been hugely important in gay culture during recent decades, but they can rather reduce us all to a low common denominator of predatory, drunken behaviour.  Speaking to each other, about things that matter, is not the norm on our gay scene which often provides us a wordless escape from our lives into altered queer realities.  On this night however I felt the potential of our social spaces to serve as community hubs.  I remembered how AIDS brought us together as a community – the slow response from the authorities forcing us to become more organised, more militant and more compassionate with each other – and i felt some of that spirit last night.

I also saw how COMPLEX our situation has become.  There are so many levels to our situation: every speaker last night had something different and something fascinating to say to the crowd in their 5 minute slot.  Dan from ACTUP spoke proudly of their action to deliver a load of bullshit to the door of UKIP that had happened that very day.  Scene podcasters Dylan and Jack, poet Alexis Gregory and several open mike contributors presented tales of gay party life, which comes over as ecstatic, hilarious and tragic at the same time.  In just a few years things have changed enormously, and those that would deny that there is a massive drug use crisis in gay London have got their heads in the sand.  Two decades ago injecting drugs was unheard of on the scene, but now slamming parties are quite normalised; the inability many experience to have sex without drugs came up a lot – also the difficulty of finding someone to play with who doesn’t use chems.  Grindr was compared to cottaging – it used to be that gay men went into public toilets to find strangers to have sex with, now we sit at home and do it.  (My memory of cottaging suggests that the adrenalin of fear – of attack or arrest – was great enough to get the ecstatic juices flowing.  Although you would see the occasional drunken man in a cottage, taking drugs was not going to work, you needed your wits about you to indulge in this dangerous game.)

I stood up to offer some poetic insights into the situation, based on my 25 journey with the virus and the internal, spiritual, transformation it provoked in me.  Telling the pub that my lowest cd4 count back in the 90s was 3 earned me their focussed attention.  I was not the only one bringing some spirituality into the night – young poet Nasser spoke of how we need faith in something in order to steer our personal ship through life’s waters: in ourselves, in a god, in Cher – something!   In the contributions i saw how this complex situation of lust, drugs and disease forces us a gay community to move beyond judgement.  There were several pleas for this last night, and I felt the call resonated in the crowd.   The drugs open the gates to great times, there is no point in denying that.  Condom free sex is glorified in porn and in life as the best thing on earth (though other perspectives were expressed last night, were given some much needed air).  If we judge each other’s behaviours the conversation will go nowhere.  It’s not hard to see that many men are using each other like commodities to be enjoyed and discarded.  it’s clear that drug use gets out of hand for some, and that underlying our behaviours is our old friend SHAME.  We are only a few decades into our gay liberation, we are still inventing, re-inventing, what it is to be a same sex lover on this planet.  We clearly need to love each other, and ourselves, more. As a community, a tribe within the human family, we have some serious healing to address.  What has encouraged me after attending this gathering of scene queens who care is that there are signs of that healing, of expanded love and some spiritual awareness emerging from many angles and from every age group.

The night’s revelations peaked for me when Gregory Mitchell, writer and activist on PrEP, presented a vision of the future where a daily Truvada pill would provide protection against infection from HIV.  Greg, who was growing up when homosexuality was still illegal, and remembers pre-aids sexual  freedom, has remained hiv negative and enjoyed an active sex life over the decades (though in the 80s he said he stopped having sex all together, it just became too scary).  He proudly sported a #TruvadaWhore t shirt and painted a picture of happier times to come.  So far, PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, is showing a 99% success rate.  A two year trial is currently underway in the UK.  It is estimated that if men who are at risk of infection use PrEP it could be possible to eradicate the virus from the gay community within two to three decades.

Is there a sense growing amongst us, a wisdom emerging, that understands that nothing is ever entirely dark or light?  There are two sides (at least) to every story.  The drug mania, like HIV, is part of our evolution as a sub-tribe of humanity freed from centuries of repression.  In some parts of the world we are still persecuted – African presidents call us Satanic – and still live in abject fear.  Here in the west we have gained some freedom – including the freedom to destroy ourselves through unbridled excesses. I believe we owe it to our brethren and sisters around the world to rapidly evolve through our collective crises and become powerful examples to the world of the LOVE, LIGHT AND HEALING we bring to the human family.  The powers that be are not going to stop us throwing ourselves off the cliffs of insane addictions and incurable diseases, as in the 80s and 90s if we want to create a better, stronger, more caring, more creative, queer community we have to do it for ourselves.

Congratulations to Pat Cash, David Stuart and the Manbar for hosting a World Aids Day event with brain, heart and balls.aidsribbons

HIV points us to the heart of the matter

HIV points us to the heart of the matter

a virus calling us to heal in body, mind and soul.

Healing is Vital, even a virus plays a role

on our human journey to becoming whole.

who are we?  what do we want in our lives?

in what ways can we care for ourselves better?

hiv will make us ask these things

we might learn that our answers, our thinking affects how we feel

we might see that emotional well-being leads to physical health

we might see what is false and what is real

in our lives as we grope forwards in the darkness

not knowing if sickness lurks down the line

not knowing if we’re living on borrowed time

at the same time we’re liberated from fear of infection

bareback sex offers itself from every direction

chem fuelled party life that brings escape from the anguish

and a sense both of brotherhood and release

our unspoken truth that since we are infected and life may be short

we may as well live it to the high vibrational max

glory in our bodies, our shamanic rituals

and the joy we can give or take from each other

whether we are long term or momentary lovers.

It’s hard to be motivated to work for the system

or try to improve life on earth

when you don’t see the point any more

you’ve been told all your life your existence is abhorrent

perhaps you started to believe it?

Society would like us to take the pills and continue to feed the economic dream

but HIV wants to teach us that life is more than it seems

wants us to face our demons, heal our wounds and discover our potential

for the sake of those to come, our success is essential.

If we just take the pills and don’t take the healing journey

we are missing the light within the darkness

and the darkness will eventually swallow us up.

here’s the rub:

HIV is the middle name of GOD

SHIVA SHIVA SHIVA SHIVA

the dancer, the destroyer, the oneness sublime

calling calling to the people of earth

to find his divine presence INSIDE

All life’s crises hold an opportunity

nothing is ever only dark or light

HIV can awaken in us, our spiritual sight.

Gays don’t like religion, thanks goddess for that

we prefer to think for ourselves

and that’s where it’s at

we come out because we touch the truth inside

and that’s where we find our love and our pride

if we learn to listen to the soul, as we did as a child

all the answers we seek are there.

we are not just biology, chemistry, physics

we are mind, emotion and ecstatic spirit

we are air, water, earth and fire

HIV is not the end, it’s a stepladder to a life lived higher

drugs are a shortcut, or a signpost on the way

whether they become our master or we master them

we will have to move on from them one day

once we’ve opened our energy bodies through all that play

we come back to CONSCIOUSNESS as the only WAY.

We can break through all pain and fear

discover there’s so much more to being queer

we’re called gay because our souls were born happy

unconditional engagement with life lived from the heart

we brighten the world when we fulfil our art

of enchantment, love and play

HIV takes us to the heart of the matter

the heart of being gay.

shiva

WORLD AIDS DAY 2014

Coming Out is the start of the journey. Self-discovery is a lifetime’s path. Gay liberation has led to massive advances for the lgbt community in terms of political rights and social acceptance, at least in some parts of the world. The sexual revolution of the 1960s produced an environment where we are free to explore our sexuality as never before. But are many of us as yet exploring how far sexuality can take us? The spiritual aspects of sex, its ability to align us with our souls, higher selves and the divine, are little discussed in a queer culture that owes its very existence to the liberal, secular spirit of the twentieth century. The role of transgendered beings as shamans in the indigenous tribes of the planet is an indicator of what we might bring to the human family. So is the fact that for centuries in the west sensitive men and women who did not wish to marry (or go to war/engage in commerce) found refuge in the Church, where we fulfilled a natural role of service to the community.

Modern queers in the west have been liberated from the closet into a largely godless world. The human spirit’s desire to break taboos and explore the limits of its capacity for pleasure has been set free in us. No God is judging us, says the secular world that enabled our political and social liberation, and that does not exactly rate spiritual self-realisation as a life goal. Gay men in particular are pursuing pleasure with an intensity and decadence perhaps not seen in Europe since ancient Rome, strewing casualties of desire and disease along the way. Gay men’s sexual culture is more known for its excess, its coldness and its casualties than for its love, safety and brotherhood. Released not only from the closet, but also from the churches and monasteries, there is little to anchor gay life, no spiritual vision of our purpose, no direction to our love making, beyond imitating the marriage and family habits of heterosexuals. We have been liberated from the closet and set free to throw ourselves into a gay pool of pleasure which can lead to a plughole of unconscious, selfish, hedonistic narcissistic devastation. Sex without Soul is not a healthy goal.

AIDS was the sign from the human soul that gay liberation was not complete. AIDS showed that we need responsibility in our play. The world has addressed the physical symptoms but not the spiritual causes of HIV. Thanks to medical science we managed to stem the tide of deaths, but not of infections – and that could be because HIV still has work to do. In a gay universe where god and spirit barely get a look in, HIV is bringing to us, one by one, certain spiritual lessons that we need in order to awaken in the soul. We may have drugs now that hold off disease, if we can handle taking them and the side effects they might cause, but we will sooner or later find ourselves confronted by some kind of health crisis, that will make us stop and think. HIV challenges us to look at ourselves, find our own truths and heal our hearts. It brings the understanding that our emotional well being is intimately connected to our physical. It can make us learn to take responsibility for our own feelings, and how we can create emotional well being through our thoughts, words and actions. In other words it takes us on a spiritual journey – the hard way, it might be said, forced on us through fear and suffering rather than consciously chosen. The fear of what might happen to us, even today when the drugs do work, coupled with a lack of understanding of (respect for or even belief in) the nature of our souls, is great enough to drive many of us to extreme escapist behaviours through uncontrolled chemical and sexual abuse. Pursuing pleasure and escaping pain go together. But by running away from fear and avoiding the pain we are in fact resisting and running away from the discovery of our own Selves.

The very act of coming out is a spiritual one. To come out, we listen deeply to the soul within us and be true to what we find there. Coming out is a hugely courageous step in a world that still to a large extent fears or denies us, though in the west gay life is certainly much easier now. But coming out is not the end, there is more to find inside! Gay people carry vibrations that the world needs. Amongst us are artists, healers, mediators whose skills could have positive impact on the world. Amongst us are shamans, ritual magicians, fools and faeries who have the power to connect the many planes of consciousness, to communicate love and wisdom from between the worlds, and to unlock the doors to deep awakening in our souls. In our outward focussed, technological age, the ecstatic truths of the inner life are largely ignored, but still nearby waiting for us. The soul’s awakening is a stage of human evolution that a rational education has not prepared us for. There is no greater catalyst for that awakening than facing our own mortality.

Beyond the stories of prevention and pills, for many of us HIV acts as a trigger to force us to turn inwards in order to find our own deep truths, heal our hurts and address the matter of who we really are, what we really want, and how we live our lives. Gay culture could become much more aware of these questions, not presenting answers to the upcoming generations about what it means to be gay, but creating a culture that encourages each of us to seek out the truth of the soul inside and manifest that truth and light in the world. The process starts with coming out sexually, moves through the kind of relationships and social scenes we choose to create, plus how we express ourselves creatively, and concludes with a spiritual coming out, which is a coming home to the soul in all its multidimensional, post-rational, marvel. This is a path of transcending the fear of death, of discovering that darkness and disease are also ways to light, and tuning in to the fact that there is more to our existence than we may have thought.

In a world crippled by hatred, greed, shame and fear gay people have a huge role to play in creating a new paradigm built on love, cooperation and peace. These qualities are natural in (most of) us. We have gifts to bring to the world. HIV might be one of the ways we discover what those gifts are – through undertaking the healing journey that HIV invites us on. To become positive is no longer the end of the world – but it’s not situation normal any more either. Something inside changes when we become positive, and though we might avoid the questions of life and death that the virus triggers in us through taking the medicines that keep our bodies going, plus perhaps taking plenty of the recreational medicines that make us feel good, sooner or later some kind of crisis is going to force our hand. We could, individually and collectively, address the spiritual questions of life, rather than running away from them via crystal meth pipe etc, and avoid the crisis stage. Healing Is Vital, and HIV is the Universe forcing us to address that.

aidsribbons

i’ve written more about hiv’s lessons for the gay community and the whole world at http://gayspirituality.typepad.com/blog/2014/11/hiv-means-healing-is-vital-world-aids-day-2014.html